Jan Freeman

Thursday, October 6, 2016, at 7:00 pm, poet Jan Freeman will kick off the tenth season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)


[Photo: Doug Anderson]

Jan Freeman is a poet and publisher. Her book of poems, Blue Structure, has just been released from Calypso Editions. Jan Freeman is author of Simon Says, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Hyena; and the chapbook Autumn Sequence. She is the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and other artist residencies. Her poems have appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Prairie Schooner, The Women’s Review of Books, The Southern Review, Bloom, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day. She directs Paris Press, which she founded in 1995 to bring back into print Muriel Rukeyser’s groundbreaking prose work The Life of Poetry. She lives in Ashfield,  Massachusetts and is at work on a new collection, About Face.



You are no longer outside
even when you stand close to the blue string
which represents the wall
even when you stand close enough so that you do not see the string
still you are inside you are not outside
The string surrounds you on three sides
From some vantage points you may appear
to be standing beside a blue stick in a field
but the string is there and you are not outside
you are inside even if everyone cannot see that you are in
and when you stand close to the string
so that in some places it disappears entirely from your line of vision
you are still inside
It may comfort you to think you are
not inside but you are standing in the structure
whether or not you forget it’s there
whether or not anyone else notices
You can leave the structure
the string is only on three sides
you can leave when you want to leave but so often you forget
that you are inside or inside you only see the string
and the field seems separate and too difficult to reach
You need to turn around you need to walk out
of the open arms as if you are walking away from the field
but that is the only way into it
If you cut the string
which you think about sometimes
or if you climb under it or even manage to climb over it
you are still inside because threads of the string stick to you
and wherever the string is
you are inside and beyond the string is always outside
The only way out is through the open space
where the string stops
tied to two blue sticks in the ground
away from the field
toward the brambles that line the field
which seem more confining
than the string but they are a fence
like the string but a fence in the world
a fence along every side of the field
Inside the structure it seems
you are free because you can see
so much on the other side
the string hardly seems there
it does not seem to be as close to your head
as your own hands
but it is and even when you imagine
that you live without it
or there is no way to live without it
or there is no way to live with it
there is always that space
that requires several steps backwards
and one step out
It is so hard to imagine that living without
the soft movement of the string will be any different from living with it
but the structure always requires in
even though there are no signs
no contracts and no locks
there is nothing keeping you inside except
what you imagine it would be to live outside
in the field where blue is not sticks and string
Blue is above your head and you cannot touch it
though it is almost always there

From Blue Structure. First published in The Ekphrastic Review